The NHL is a rough league and hockey is a tough sport. Just as any other contact sport deals with concussion issues, so does the NHL.
Andrew Alberts, who has played nine years in the NHL as a defenseman, is a testament to the major concussion issues that the NHL has to deal with.
Back in December, Alberts was playing defense for the Vancouver Canucks when he was hit in the head by a forearm from Brian McGrattan of the Calgary Flames. The hit knocked Alberts out, and he went face first into the ice. The hit ended Alberts’ season, and possibly will end his career as well.
Six months after the hit Alberts is still dealing with post concussion symptoms in the form of headaches. Alberts turns 33 on June 30th, which is when his contract with the Canucks ends.
His wife, Kelly, spoke to the Vancouver Sun about the concussion and the hit that will likely end Alberts’ career:
I don’t think it’s so much that his career may be over; I think it’s the way it ended. Every player wants to go out on their own terms, and you especially don’t want to go out in a situation … in what was so clearly an inappropriate play. It goes without saying it’s hard to see someone you love in pain. But on another level, it’s also really hard to see someone you love not be able to do what they love. Andrew has loved hockey for so long, it’s a way of life. It’s hard to see him not be able to enjoy that on a daily basis.
Alberts himself told the Sun that McGrattan has never contacted him to apologize for the hit, and is hoping to just have one day without headaches:
I don’t think that’s in his nature. I think there should have been some supplemental discipline (on McGrattan). If I’m Sidney Crosby, it’s probably a 15-game suspension. The frustrating part is I’m working my ass off trying to be on the team and get in the lineup, something like that happens and the guy gets off free and now here I am just hoping I can have one day without headaches.
Hopefully the NHL will change their policy on supplemental discipline once Alberts’ story comes to light. The NHL has a responsibility to protect it’s players and punish those who violate the rules. Here is to wishing Alberts a full and speedy recovery.